published Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Simmons-O'Neal concert Sunday - Feb. 9

Two choirs combine to honor former directors

The Chattanooga Boys Choir and the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song
The Chattanooga Boys Choir and the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.


* What: Simmons-O'Neal Memorial Concert.

* When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 9.

* Where: New City Fellowship, 2424 E. Third St.

* Admission: Free, love offering collected.

* Phone: 423-634-2299, 423-892-1439.

* Websites:,

Singers in the Chattanooga Boys Choir and the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African American Song will join voices Sunday afternoon, Feb. 9, for their annual concert in memory of two revered music educators.

The Simmons-O'Neal Memorial Concert will be held in New City Fellowship. Admission is free, but a love offering will be taken with proceeds divided between the two choirs' scholarship funds.

Edmonia Simmons, a public school music teacher, was founding director of the choral society. Everett O'Neal was a public school music supervisor as well as longtime director of the Boys Choir. Genevieve O'Neal, wife of the late CBC director, has said in previous interviews with the Times Free Press that the two were great friends.

The concert culminates an exciting week for the Boys Choir, according to director Vincent Oakes. The boys will have just completed a recording session for the Choristers Guild, a worldwide educational association for teachers and church music directors.

"Choristers Guild is a publishing house as well as an educational association. They feature publications of music specifically written for children's voices," says Oakes.

Every time a new series of music is published, a choir is needed to make a demo record of the song for review by members.

"The Chattanooga Girls Choir also does these recordings," says Oakes, "The songs are heard by more than 6,000 choir directors around the country. This recording will go out in early fall."

Oakes says the CBC Cantabile Choir of teenage young men will join the two choirs for this concert.

"The Cantabile Choir will combine with the boys on a Renaissance piece by Christopher Tye, 'Laudate Nomen Domini,' to show what a Renaissance choir -- which is composed of adult males and boys -- would have sounded like," Oakes says.

The Choral Society and the boys will combine on a South African freedom song, "Ewe Thina," which Oakes says loosely translates to "We walk with God." He says the Cantabile Choir also will perform a South African piece, "Gabi Gabi," which includes African percussion.

The CBC choristers will sing an arrangement of the spiritual "Let My People Go," as well as give an encore presentation of "Battle Above the Clouds," from last fall's Civil War concert. CBC chorister and violinist Hayden Daniel will accompany the latter number.

Michael Mitchell, director of the Choral Society, says its portion of the program will include Roland Carter's arrangements of "In Bright Mansions" and "Come Here, Jesus." Mitchell says the 35-voice chorale also will perform pieces by composers Moses Hogan, Omar Dickenson, Jester Hairston and Mitchell Southall.

The two choirs will again join voices for their finale featuring an arrangement of "Let There Be Peace on Earth," says Oakes.

Contact Susan Pierce at or 423-757-6284.

about Susan Pierce...

Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...

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